Vanilla Bean Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

Vanilla Bean Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

So, why could we not just call this, sour cream ice cream? Well, because I, on a whim, bought a container of creme fraiche, and happened to also buy some vanilla beans – so this is where fate directed me. Vanilla Bean Creme Fraiche Ice Cream! I also happened to have Pure Desserts by Alice Medrich on my counter, and have always wanted to make her sour cream ice cream!

Vanilla Bean Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

Here we are. Vanilla bean-flecked, creamy ice cream with just a hint of sourness to cut through the richness. It sounds weird, but vanilla bean creme fraiche ice cream works. If you are a fan of cream cheese, greek yogurt, goat cheese, labneh….you will certainly like this ice cream. It is indeed true ice cream, but takes a nod at Sicilian gelato by using just a touch of corn starch for thickening

You would be fine using a full-fat sour cream – be sure to get one that is just cultured cream – and without gums and stabilizers. Vanilla beans* are lovely, but extract stirred in after the base has cooled completely will work as well. Depending on how much you add – say a tablespoon or so – it may have a slight softening effect on the ice cream due to the alcohol.

Vanilla Bean Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

Vanilla bean creme fraiche ice cream can go places – in a sundae (with homemade fudge sauce, using a more fruity cocoa or chocolate or raw cacao powder – which is how we enjoyed it), alongside a crisp or cobbler, on top of a brownie, between cookies, topped with salted caramel sauce, or just with some macerated in-season berries. It is a twist on the classic that will take you places!

With most ice creams, I use half-and-half…since it is half whole milk, half heavy cream. If you want a more rich ice cream, use a greater proportion of heavy cream (and vice-versa if you want a lighter ice cream). Use the best dairy you can find!

Vanilla Bean Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

*hot tip – seek out grade B vanilla beans to save yourself some cash, and get more bang for your buck (as in – grade B are less moist than extract grade A beans).

Vanilla Bean Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

Creamy, vanilla-bean infused ice cream big in flavor, with a subtle sour note to cut through the richness. Adapted from an Alice Medrich recipe in her book, Pure Desserts.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, French
Servings 6 small scoops


  • Ice cream maker


  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean vanilla extract can be used instead, added after base has chilled
  • 1 TB plus 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt fine grain
  • 2 cups half and half equal amounts of whole milk and/or heavy cream can be used instead
  • 1 cup creme fraiche or sour cream full fat sour cream with no gums or stabilizers


  • In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan, mix sugar, sea salt and corn starch. Split vanilla bean down center of pod, and scrape out the beans. Add beans and scraped pod into the pan, and mix with a rubber spatula to ensure no lumps of corn starch remain.
  • Add the half and half, mixing to incorporate the sugar-starch-vanilla bean mixture.
  • Heat over medium while constantly stirring until the mixture starts to steadily bubble and boil, then cook for 2 minutes. Be sure to scrape all sides and bottom of pan to prevent sticking or scorching. Taste after the mixture bubbles and boils for 2 minutes, and ensure no starchy flavor or mouthfeel (dryness) is present. If so, cook for another 30 seconds and re-taste.
  • Pour base into a wide bowl or container, to facilitate cooling. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap onto the surface of teh base to prevent a skin from forming. Place in fridge for at least 4 hours or until very cold, ideally overnight. Once cold, mix in the creme fraiche and vanilla extract if using. Remove vanilla pods and discard.
  • Churn the thoroughly chilled base in an ice cream maker. Transfer churned ice cream into desired container and freeze until firm.
  • Store in a covered container in the freezer for up to 10 days.


Ice cream is most easily scooped if it is allowed to sit at room temperature for a few minutes. Use a scoop dipped in hot water to help facilitate perfect scooping. 
Homemade ice cream tends to have larger, and fewer, ice crystal nuclei – resulting in larger ice crystals in the final product. These grow in size at faster rate than commercial ice cream, hence the shorter shelf life of homemade.
Try to store ice cream away from a drafty place in the freezer if possible – such as the door or front of the freezer, and avoid odiferous foods being stored near the ice cream as they will permeate into the fatty ice cream matrix.
Keyword Creme Fraiche, Ice cream, Sour Cream, Vanilla, Vanilla Bean

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